God’s Desires Are Far More Simple than Our Attempts to Appease Him

More than he wants our acts of piety, more than he wants our adherence to religion, more than he wants our observance of rules and rituals, more than he wants our words of affection, he simply wants to know us and for us to know him.  And ultimately that’s how our relationship with him will be defined.  And if that isn’t there, all prophesying, exorcisms and miracles in the world won’t matter.

– Idleman, Kyle; Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus; Zondervan; copyright 2011; Grand Rapids, MI; Kindle Edition; page 108

What Are You Following?

Maybe you grew up in a home where you were taught all about Jesus.  Through fear and guilt you learned to keep as many of the rules as possible, hoping it would be enough to keep you out of hell.  You were taught to observe different religious traditions and rituals in an effort to appease God.  Instead of becoming a follower of Christ, you become a follower of religion.

– Idleman, Kyle; Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus; Zondervan; copyright 2011; Grand Rapids, MI; Kindle Edition; page 82

What the Gospel Shows…

What religion is unable to do, God does for us in the gospel.  The gospel shows me a God who is better than the approval of others and a God more valuable than their praise.  The gospel shows me that God’s presence and approval are the greatest treasure in the universe.  The gospel reveals God’s mercy toward me, and that makes me more merciful with others – not because I have to do so to gain God’s acceptance, but because I am so overwhelmed by His mercy that can’t help but extend that to others.

– Greear, J.D.; Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary; B&H Publishing Group; Nashville, TN; Copyright 2011; Kindle Edition; page 37-39

Religion vs. The Gospel

Religion, then, can tell you what to do – namely, to “love God with all your heart, soul and mind” and “to love your neighbor as yourself”; but the gospel alone gives you the power to do it.

– Greear, J.D.; Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary; B&H Publishing Group; Nashville, TN; Copyright 2011; Kindle Edition; page 17

This Requires the Gospel to be Explored at Every Opportunity and in Regular, Systematic Ways

Religion, as the default mode of our thinking and practices, is based upon performance: “I obey; therefore, I am accepted by God.”  The basic operating principle of the gospel however, is not surprisingly, an about-face, one of the unmerited acceptance: “I am accepted by God through Christ: therefore I obey.”  To truly understand this paradigm shift at a life-altering level requires that the gospel be explored and “looked into” at every opportunity and in regular systematic ways.

– Tim Keller, in the forward to Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary; B&H Publishing Group; Nashville, TN; Copyright 2011; Kindle Edition; location 138

The Church Has No Religious Purpose at All

What role have I left for religion?  None.  And I have left none because the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ leaves none.  Christianity is not a religion; it is the announcement of the end of religion.

Religion consists of all the things (believing, behaving, worshipping, sacrificing) the human race has ever thought it had to to do to get it right with God…Everything religion tried (and failed) to do has been perfectly done once and for all, by Jesus in his death and resurrection.  For Christians, therefore, the entire religion shop has been closed, boarded up, and forgotten.  The church is not in the religion business.  It never has been and it never will be, in spite of all the ecclesiastical turkeys through two thousand years who have acted as if religion was their stock and trade.  The church, instead, is in the Gospel-proclaiming business.  It is not here to bring the world the bad news that God will think kindly about us only after we have gone through certain creedal, liturgical and ethical wickets; it is here to bring the world the Good News that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.”  It is here, in short, for no religious purpose at all, only to announce the Gospel of free grace.

– Tchividian, Tullian; One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World; David Cook Publishers; copyright 2013; Kindle Edition; Location 2635

The Exact Opposite is True

To be filled with the Holy Spirit is like being a sale field with the wind. Just as a ship opens at sail, that it may be powerfully driven toward a destination, as spirit-filled Christians, we open our minds, hearts, and wills to the things of God and welcome his powerful direction.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God helps us live holy lives and enables us to obey him. In this way, regeneration is the opposite of religion, which tragically teaches that if you obey God, he will then love you. The exact opposite is true. Regeneration reveals that because God loves us, we can’t obey him by the power of the Holy Spirit. You have new power in Christ.

– Driscoll, Mark; Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in ChristThomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, copyright 2013; Page 150

Christianity is a Religion of Works

Christianity is also a religion of works just not our own works. Only by the work of Jesus Christ are we saved. Only through faith in the sinless life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection can anyone be saved. Jesus saves us, which then results in our good works what Jesus also often refers to as the “fruit” of his already accomplished work of salvation and us.  This is a vastly different way of looking at the world than any other religion. Our works don’t justify us. Rather our works are an act of worship to a God who has already made us new.

– Driscoll, Mark; Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in ChristThomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, copyright 2013; Page 76

We Are Farther From the Kingdom of God than the Prostitutes and Tax Collectors

There is a lot of zeal today for religion, spirituality, and moral crusades.  Yet when we are ignorant of the righteousness that God demands in his law and the righteousness that he gives in the gospel, we are farther from his kingdom than the prostitutes and tax collectors (Matthew 21:32).  This is the message that the prophets brought and that Jesus proclaimed in his ministry.

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 48

The Pursuit is Not for that Which is Profitable, but that Which is Pleasureable

We come with double forces against the wicked, to persuade them to a godly life…The common argument is the profitableness of religion, but alas, the wicked man is not in pursuit of profit; ’tis pleasure he seeks.  Now, then, we will fight with them with their own weapons.

Jonathan Edwards

as quoted byPiper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p. 103